Virtual Colloquium Series

October 16, 1 PM Central: "Owl vs. Owl: Toward Interspecies Repair in the Old-Growth Forest"

Ben Almassi, Governors State University

Abstract: Though many of us have constructed our lives (or have had them constructed for us) such that it is easy to forget or at least ignore, human lives are entangled with other animals in many ways. Some interspecies relationships would arguably still exist in some form or another under an ideal model of animal ethics, while others have an inescapably non-ideal character: these relationships exist as they are because things have gone wrong.

In a world without cattle farming, bull fighting, canine police units, or lab rats, human lives would not be entangled with other animals as we are now, but we would be entangled nonetheless. Even if and when abolitionists succeed in dismantling exploitative practices, the moral residue of these practices demands a kind of moral reckoning. We have duties to animals we have wronged because we have wronged them. Even if we prefer to envision other animals living in minimal relationality to humans, the long history of interspecies wrongdoing to which animal ethicists rightly draw our attention requires attending to non-ideal positive rights and duties of interspecies repair.

Here I draw upon Karen Emmerman, Clare Palmer, and my own work on reparative environmental justice to critically evaluate current US Fish & Wildlife Service policy of killing barred owls to protect endangered spotted owls in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. This is a thorny case to be sure, but one that I think can benefit from a non-ideal assessment in terms of interspecies relational repair.

November 16, 11 AM Central: "The Concept of Death and the Ethics of Killing Animals"

Susana Monsó, Messerli Research Institute

Abstract: In discussions on the ethics of killing animals, it's common to come across some form of the following argument:

P1. Death, in itself, can only harm those beings who possess a concept of death.

P2. Nonhuman animals lack a concept of death.

C. Death, in itself, cannot harm nonhuman animals.

Philosophers who make use of this argument have grounded Premise 1 in various ways. At the same time, philosophers who are not convinced by this argument have focused on showing why Premise 1 is false. In contrast, philosophers on both sides of the debate agree on Premise 2, even though no empirical justification has traditionally been offered for it. In this paper, I argue that it is a mistake to treat Premise 2 as an unquestionable assumption. I give an account of what it means to understand death that will show that, contrary to what philosophers have assumed, it's not an all-or-nothing matter and many animals can likely acquire some form of the concept of death. This account of the concept of death also reveals a more nuanced view of its interconnectedness with the harms of death. I sketch some possible implications of this for our end-of-life management practices with animals.

2021 Pacific APA Group Session: Animals and the Law

Chair: TBA

Kathy Hessler, "How Animals Suffer from the Law's Ignorance of Philosophy"

Priscilla Rader Culp, "A Path from Animal Ethics to Animal Law"

Ramona Ilea, "Teaching Philosophy and Helping Students Advocate for Animals: A How To Guide"